If you have lost a tooth due to an accident or a dental extraction, you have likely talked to a dentist about your options for tooth replacement. Among the available options are dental bridges. Dental bridges are a permanent alternative to partial dentures, and many people prefer bridges because they don't require the routine application of denture adhesive. Bridges are also more inexpensive and less invasive than dental implants. Before you undergo the treatment required to have a dental bridge installed, you should know what to expect. Here are four steps your dentist will take you through:
1. Reshaping your existing teeth
A dental bridge is a prosthetic tooth that is affixed to your mouth using dental crowns. That means the teeth surrounding your missing tooth will need to be reshaped so the crowns will fit over them. At your initial appointment, your dentist will use a dental drill to shave down the enamel of these two teeth. Next, they will take a mold of your mouth so the crowns and bridge can be constructed for a proper fit.
2. Applying a temporary bridge
Once your teeth have been reduced to accommodate the bridge, your dentist will place a temporary bridge in your mouth. This will protect your teeth and allow you to chew and speak normally until your permanent bridge is completed. However, you should keep in mind that this temporary bridge is not very durable. Avoid chewing anything hard on the affected side of your mouth, and do not eat very sticky foods such as caramel, since these foods can pull your temporary bridge loose.
3. Attaching your permanent bridge
At your second and final appointment, your dentist will place your permanent bridge and attach it with strong adhesive. They will check your bite to make sure everything lines up properly, and they may do some slight recontouring of the crown and bridge appliance if necessary.
4. Performing proper aftercare
Once your bridge is in place, your dentist's work is finished. However, according to Colgate, most dental bridge replacements are necessitated by decay in the underlying teeth. That means you should take good care of your dental bridge in order to preserve its longevity. Clean underneath the prosthetic tooth each time you floss. A water pressure flosser can help you do this if you have a hard time with ordinary waxed floss. Make sure to care for your bridge just like you would care for any other tooth.